It's the Fifth of July. I couldn't think of a better day to post. The significance of the date hasn't escaped my notice, or yours, apparently. This makes me want to give each and every one of you a long, lingering, lola hug.
My betas LouderThanSirens and Momma Bear deserve much credit for this entire fic. Thank you, my loves.
This one is for stephk0525.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
When I say my vows, he watches with an awed expression while I recite the words that I wrote for him.
When I give birth to our first son, his hand gripping mine is the only thing that keeps me grounded.
When my dad gets sick and moves in with us, he makes sure he gets the best care available. I often find him in the chair next to Charlie's bed retelling stories about fishing on the lake; reminding him of the now legendary fish they caught together over the years.
Edward is, as I predicted, a wonderful father and husband. He loves coaching, and even though he did receive the money from the trust, I know he will continue working for a long time because football is in his blood.
Every summer we return to the lake, and most things here don't change. Our kids play together in the sand that we ran around in when we were kids.
Mrs. Mallory passed away after our second son was born. She left her cabin and the Bel-Air to Jasper and Alice, who live there during the summers. The two of them found out that they couldn't conceive about a year after getting married, and a few years later are able to adopt their daughter Chloe. She's joined at the hip with our oldest son Jack. Our youngest, Charlie, follows Seth everywhere. Jasper, Emmett and Edward teach them to tune up cars. Rose, Alice and I teach them to cannonball off the dock. I read to them from the notebooks that tell our whole lives.
Things aren't always ideal; we're scattered across the country and don't get to see each other enough, but every year in June we convene here and it's the same bliss that I remember.
Esme and Carlisle are up for the week, but went to bed when the kids did. They never married, but I've never seen two people more content to just be together. They spend a lot of time traveling around to visit all of us, and the kids call them Grams and Gramps.
Most nights after the kids are asleep we have drinks on one of our decks. Tonight the kids are having a sleepover in Rose's living room and fell asleep about an hour ago.
We're reliving our past antics, failing to keep our voices low, but I'm laughing so hard that I can't tell everyone to shut up. Alice is talking about the time the boys got arrested.
"And all because Bella got finge-" She claps a hand over her mouth mid-sentence, holding back laughter while she raises a few inches out of her seat to look in the window at the kids. Chloe is at the age where she repeats everything she hears, and I don't think any of us want her asking all summer what that means.
She sits back down when she sees they're still asleep, and continues in a whisper. "All because Bella got fingered by some kid when she was fifteen!" They laugh and I grimace, because the word 'fingered' is disgusting. Edward stiffens beside me.
I turn to him incredulously. "Are you seriously still pissy about that? I married you. I gave birth to your beautiful children. I am your doting wife. I cook and clean and do your laundry…"
He throws his head back, laughing. I don't attempt to quiet him. It's too wonderful to watch him lost in the moment. "You do not cook, woman. At least, not well."
I cross my arms over my chest in mock anger. "Whatever."
His hands wrap around my waist, and his lips are at my ear. He tickles me and goose bumps break out on my skin while I try to squirm out of his grasp, giggling.
"If you guys are gonna get all frisky, please do it elsewhere. Gross," Rose says, making a face.
Edward and I stop and look at her, still pressed together. "Seriously?" we say in unison. Rose and Emmett have been known to get quite creative about finding time to be intimate. I still can't walk into the boathouse without checking to make sure no one is inside and…naked.
Rose rolls her eyes, and the rest of us crack up loudly.
Chloe appears in the doorway, her ponytail is falling out and she's clutching a stuffed rabbit in one small fist.
Jasper gets up and opens the screen door, scooping her up. "Can't you sleep, baby?" he asks, bringing her out to curl up on his lap.
"Uncle Em is too loud," she chirps, looking at him accusingly.
"Sorry, munchkin," Emmett grins at her, opening his arms. She hops down from her dad's lap and into Emmett's. She lays sideways across his lap, leaning against his broad chest. He unconsciously rubs circles on her back. Like Edward, he's a natural with kids.
We continue our conversation quietly. Rose sneaks inside to grab another bottle of wine and a few beers for the guys.
Chloe falls asleep again quickly and Alice picks her up gently to bring her back inside.
When the drinks are refilled and we're all back in our seats, I let the quiet sink in for a moment. The air is cooling off as it gets darker, and the wine is making me nostalgic.
"Remember that first summer with all of us here?" I smile thinking about how young we were. "I miss…" I can't finish the sentence, swallowing hard. My dad died this year, and it's still hard for me grasp that he isn't going to pull up on his boat any minute. We didn't have enough time. He didn't have enough time with his grandkids, and the thought still chokes me up.
Edward's arm tightens around me, and I can see all of their faces register that I'm thinking about my dad. It wasn't easy for any of us, losing Charlie or Mrs. Mallory. It's a sign that time is marching on, and even though things are good, we're still aware that we're truly the adults here now. We've loved and lost, all together, and we now have people who depend on us just as much as we depended on our parents.
"Charlie would have loved today," Jasper says quietly, looking up. It's a little overcast, the sun is below the trees and the sky is layered with stripes of pink and purple. It was cool this morning and the boys said the fishing was excellent.
We nod. He would have.
I wallow in it for a moment, and then try to lighten the mood. "Remember the time we made the boys cannonball naked?"
"Mrs. M had those binoculars glued to her face!" Emmett laughs, before Rose clamps her hand over his mouth. Our quiet laughter sounds back to us from the lake.
"God, you guys, it was all such a long time ago, but sometimes I still feel like I'm sixteen years old," Rose says, smiling wistfully.
"Cheers to that," I say, smiling and tucking myself in closer to Edward.
We raise our glasses, and all of our eyes meet, as is our tradition. "To family."
I look around as the chatter resumes, and admire the people that have made my life good.
Edward meets my eyes, and kisses me softly. It's a kiss I'll never tire of.
I close my eyes and relish in the slight breeze blowing sweetly against my skin.
I don't even know what to say except thank you for reading and sticking with me (and Prickward) through all of this. It has been a joy to write, and I'm going to have a cocktail right now in celebration and in mourning. Because that's what these kids would do.